Georgia Democrat gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is under fire from political opponents after appearing in now-deleted tweets showing her posing, maskless, among several schoolchildren wearing masks after her call for more masking policies in the state’s schools.
The photos were initially tweeted last Friday by school principal Holly Brookins of an event at Glennwood Elementary School in Decatur, Georgia, reports CNN.
She said in her post that Abram’s appearance at the school was an “extraordinary way to kick off the 3rd Annual African-American Read-In at Glennwood and Black History Month” and that the school was “thrilled” to welcome the Democrat organizer and author of the book “Stacey’s Extraordinary Words.”
Abrams then quote-tweeted the post and photos, but now, both tweets are deleted and Brookins’ account appears to have been deactivated.
But the photos sparked a backlash from people angry over COVID-19 making policies. The city of Decatur has extended an indoor masking mandate from Jan. 18 through Feb. 22, with the city’s school district enforcing similar rules.
GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who is facing a primary challenge from former Sen. David Perdue, slammed the photo in a tweet, showing the photo and saying that Abrams “wants state government mask mandates for Georgians and their children. But it looks like they wouldn’t apply when she’s attending a photo op.”
Purdue, who former President Donald Trump has endorsed to replace Kemp, also criticized Abrams and took on Kemp in a tweet commenting that “we all know Stacey Abrams’ hypocrisy knows no bounds. Liberals’ thirst for power during this pandemic has caused enormous damage to our kids, while the elite like Stacey continue living their lives. What is even worse is that this is a classroom in Brian Kemp’s GA, not NY or CA.”
His Twitter page also uses the picture as its cover image, along with a caption to “unmask our kids.”
Abrams’ campaign Sunday responded to the outcry over the photos but did not explain why she wasn’t wearing a mask in them. Instead the campaign took aim at her political opponents, reports CNN.
“It is shameful that our opponents are using a Black History Month reading event for Georgia children as the impetus for a false political attack, and it is pitiful and predictable that our opponents continue to look for opportunities to distract from their failed records when it comes to protecting public health during the pandemic,” the campaign said in a statement.
The statement also attacked Abrams’ opponents without naming them, complaining that one “downplayed the virus while trading stock to profit off the pandemic after his private coronavirus briefings as a Senator” in an apparent dig on Perdue.
The Department of Justice investigated Perdue and other members of Congress for insider stock trading linked to the pandemic in 2020. The department closed its investigations into insider trading in early 2021, it was previously reported.
The statement also attacked Kemp, without naming him, as an opponent who “attacked mayors seeking to protect their citizens and has failed to expand access to Medicaid even as rural hospitals close. This pathetic, transparent, and silly attack is beneath anyone who claims he wants to lead Georgia.”
Kemp, as governor, fought with former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over the city’s mask mandate, notes The Hill. Abrams, a former state legislator, lost narrowly to him in Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial race.
Abrams’ campaign further told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she wore a mask to the school, but she removed it once there so students who were watching remotely could hear her and for the photos, under the condition that the children around her kept their masks on.
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